Attitudes and concerns of doctors and nurses about using a translation application for in-hospital brief interactions with Korean patients

Karen Jean Day, Nicole Song


Background: New Zealand is becoming more ethnically diverse, with rising numbers of people with limited English language proficiency. Consequently, hospital interactions are increasing where patients have insufficient English to communicate adequately with doctors or nurses for appropriate, effective, and safe care. Translation technology is rapidly evolving, but evidence is limited regarding its usefulness to clinicians.

Objective: To examine the acceptability to doctors and nurses of a translation application (app) used on a tablet, in brief interactions with Korean patients.

Method: An app was developed to facilitate brief conversations between patients and clinicians as part of clinical care. We used the Technology Acceptance Model 2 to develop semi-structured interview questions for 15 junior and senior doctors and nurses in an urban hospital. Participants used the app to interact with the interviewer as part of a scenario. The interviews were analysed thematically.

Results: The app was easy to use, learn to use, and to memorise for future use. It was considered useful for everyday brief interactions, urgent situations where there is no time to call an interpreter, and after hours, to augment the work of interpreters. Subject to perceived usefulness, there appears to be little need for social normalisation of a translation app, other than management support for the costs, maintenance, and implementation of the app for everyday use.  

Conclusion: Guidelines are required for the use of a translation app by doctors and nurses to augment the interpreter role. A larger study and future research on the patient’s perspective are required. 


Sociotechnical; translation; usefulness; ease of use; social influence; clinician

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